The Jackson Hole Moose wrapped up what was most certainly its oddest season since the team traced its roots to 1993 with the then Grizzlies.
After a 2019-20 season cut short just before the playoffs in March 2020, the 2020-21 season was planned for with higher hopes. A 26-game home schedule was announced in the off-season and opening weekend got off to a cautious start on November 6-7 with a pair of wins over Bozeman.
But the season was abruptly halted there until the end of January when the Moose resumed play against the Denver Leafs. A bout with Cleveland in mid-February followed. And then the end—an unceremonious and subdued weekend with the Vermont Flex March 5-6 as the Moose ended a season that was mostly put on ice.
Two victories leave the Moose record at 7-1 for the year. Wearing their newer white-and-blacks, the Moose easily skated past the Flex 8-3 on Friday and 11-2 on Saturday.
Without practices and competition to hone their game, the Moose did not exactly display the kind of team cohesiveness they have in past campaigns. But they suffered not for their lack of sharpness.
Displaying, rather, the sum of their parts, the Moose simply outskated their opponents in the final weekend because their players were better.
Vermont outscored the Moose in the 3rd period of Friday’s game but by then they had dug themselves an insurmountable 7-0 hole.
Jackson got their offensive push from AJ Sanders (2G, 2A), Jason Reese (1G, 3A), and newcomer Anthony Day (1G, 3A). Tender Tim Cooney turned away 48 of 51 shots he faced.
Saturday was similar. The Moose took a 5-0 lead into the first intermission and never looked back. Day had another night to remember with a goal and 2 assists, while the rest of the scoring came from Dakota Richardson and Dustin Henning, who notched a pair apiece. Joe Noonan stopped all but 2 of 46 shots in goal.
Perhaps two dozen were on hand to witness the final game of an asterisk encumbered season. This was one of the more talented Moose hockey teams that never got out of the barn; shackled by a pandemic and left bunched behind the bit, sweated but unrun.